Wednesday, November 23, 2005

it's the signifier, stupor

These days, Labov found, the most extreme dialect change in the country is taking place in the Chicago area. “The ‘eah’ sound, which you hear in ‘happened’— heahppened — is a young, very invasive sound that is rapidly changing a number of other sounds around it,” he said. This so-called “Northern Cities Shift” is spreading toward St. Louis along I-55, transforming the Inland North dialect, which used to be the model for standard American pronunciation....

“Slang is just the paint on the hood of the car,” Labov said. “Most of the important changes in American speech are not happening at the level of grammar or language — which used to be the case — but at the level of sound itself.” here


She had this thing she did with her forehead that was like a gun kind of, like it was a gun lying on the table in front of her that she would sort of absently put her hand on, like she would put her hand on it now and again, just to let everybody know what was up. A frown with a lot of anger behind it. A warrior's frown. She was a neo-con ninjette.
Meaning it was intimidating, intentionally so - aggressive, with a lot of violence in back of it.
Her thesis, or talking point, or diversion - I don't what to call it because it doesn't matter, there isn't a pejorative for it, it's a release of chemicals, it doesn't have any higher attributes. here


Anonymous J Alva Scruggs said...

The New Yorker article was studiously bad. It was an "uh heungh, uh heungh" article when it could have gotten an "a-ha!" So many writers these days have a hard time with straightfoward statements and representations.

Nary an “r” was dropped nor an “a” raised during the question-and-answer session that followed Labov’s presentation. As people were gathering their things to leave, however, a security guard asked a departing guest, “Is the professa’s tawk finished?”

That, for example, was irritatingly coy. As was the omission of any of Labov's reasons for saying what he does. It was a juicless and joyless mock-personality piece. It can't compare to the rich insight offered at I saw fate whiz back by me.

If that's the use to which Seabrook is going to put language, perhaps it would be better for us to practise gesticulations, frowns and scornful noises, the better to convery meaning to him.

11/24/2005 9:18 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

I'd hoped the interest of the cited apercu would excuse the Seabrook. Glad you found the other piece of value.

11/24/2005 10:34 AM  
Anonymous J Alva Scruggs said...

I think I damned Juke Moran with faint praise :-( He really knows how to write and he really likes people.

The article on Labov needed some demographic trends, especially income levels. Also, I would love to have heard about the effect of television on this liguistic change. My knowledge is years out of date, but didn't it have a sort of smoothing effect? What's more, I recall the standard American accent being called Mid-Atlantic. My ignorance is no indictment of Seabrook, of course (though I'm sorely tempted to cheat and hint that it is, he ticked me off that much).

Getting back to Juke, though I've never met him, I imagine he speaks much as he writes. He has a lyrical style. This might be wishful thinking. I love good voices expertly used by good story tellers.

11/24/2005 10:55 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

If you haven't seen it, you might enjoy this site by the same writer:

11/24/2005 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Tutor said...

Juke sees through a glass darkly, and speaks like a mad prophet, but his vision is haunting, and hard to bear. As I come to see things his way, I wish I didn't.

11/28/2005 3:53 PM  
Blogger Juke said...

Geez. Now I feel bad.
Maybe you're supposed to change it or something. And keep in mind there's been no "This is my vision..." statement as such.
This is all a working-toward as much as it is anything else. And there's a lot of unspoken context. A lot.
Waking up to the fact of your singing being a kind of entertainment when it was until then evocation and genuine yearning.
The responsibilities thing is so difficult, I've tried a few times to pin it - who is it for? The contrast of the us of now, against the us of then and when is that? The how far down the line then? Sacrifice comes in there somewhere.
7 generations gets used cause it's long enough to be awe-inspiring but close enough to still be local.
Take it all the way out and you end up mowing God's lawn all day and night.
And so much is in this moment a terrible work of not letting the futility leak into all that still could get done.
Encouraging the little guys can easily become encouraging the bad guys. Scams abound.
Try thinking of the darkness as a correction to the too-pastel intentional naivete and the conceits of privilege.
And a factor that's maybe difficult to get if you haven't been near the fire, a lot of us are sketchy about championing too overtly things we can't protect.

11/28/2005 9:20 PM  

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